Brain drain fear as more Britons look at better life overseas

Have your say

Jonathan Lucas decided to move to Perth, the capital of Western Australia, in 2010 and has no regrets.

“In the UK I was a quantity surveyor working for Laing O’Rourke. With the 2008 global recession, the UK market was slow. But in Australia the market is still booming and there remains a great deal of opportunity for a construction business,” the Leeds-born 32-year-old said.

“I transferred to Laing O’Rourke Australia and now hold the title of commercial manager. I currently look after a $135m structural, mechanical and piping project related to the mining and materials handling sector.

“With my partner Andrea growing up in Australia, Perth seemed like the ideal place to have a change and try something new. Although the cost of living is very high, the pay generally compensates for that.

“A pint of beer costs $10 and the rent for an average two-bedroom house is about $500 per week. Our standard of living is very good, but the downside to that is that I often work away. Australia is such a vast place – you can find yourself spending lots of time in airports and on planes.

“We haven’t made any plans to return to the UK as such. We intend to get married this year, and would like the opportunity to try and transfer to Canada or the east coast of Australia. Although we like it here, there is a lot more of the world that we would like to see...It’s nice to get to travel to places on this side of the world like Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and New Zealand.”

Moving abroad is becoming a popular choice for skilled young job-seekers, with the latest figures showing that more than 350,000 Brits leave the UK each year.

The most sought-after destinations include Australia and New Zealand, and with the obvious benefits of sun, sea and sand as well as increased job opportunities, it’s no wonder so many young people are packing their bags. But these figures from a Home Office study could cause a skills shortage in the UK.

Paul Arthur, director of migration specialists The Emigration Group, said: “The UK is continuing to experience a ‘brain drain’, with many Brits in professional or managerial positions emigrating to pursue careers abroad. Particularly down under, there are thousands of job opportunities across a whole raft of different sectors and occupations, from hairdressers to nurses, doctors and construction workers. If you are on the skills shortage list then you have a high chance of qualifying for a permanent residency visa.

“Simply put, there has never been a better time to emigrate. This new demand for British workers is fuelling emigration, and as our economy improves and people can release the equity they have in the UK, I can only see migration escalating.”

Bradford is the fifth highest city for emigration, representing more than two per cent of all the inquiries that the Emigration Group has dealt with over the past six months. Meanwhile, Yorkshire as a whole represents about six per cent of the company’s migration inquiries for the UK.

Paul Arthur added: “The majority of people are between 30 and 45 – often families, with one or both parents having a skilled occupation. Australia is the most popular destination for Brits to emigrate with New Zealand also high on the list. It’s not surprising that they remain the popular choices.

“In a recent global liveability survey, cities down under rated top 10 in the places to live in the world. These countries are popular because of the mild climate and reputation for having a far better work-life balance. People can see a way of life there that can’t be achieved in the UK.”

The UK now ranks eighth highest in the world in terms of its nationals living abroad and migration experts believe these levels are set to increase.

But, for now, emigration numbers have started to fall slightly according to the Office of National Statistics – most likely because of people having issues selling their homes.

A Home Office study reveals 
that when unemployment falls, more Brits move abroad and when unemployment is at its highest fewer people are moving away. This is possibly because people are more financially prepared and ready to move 
when working than when unemployed.

The Emigration Group are running a migration seminar at the Holiday Inn Leeds in 
Garforth on Saturday, January 

To book tickets in advance visit or call 01244 321414.